The British Cleric Sentenced for Supporting ISIS

Anjem Choudary was convicted in July for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed leader.

Outspoken British Muslim Cleric Anjem Choudary in London, England.
Outspoken British Muslim Cleric Anjem Choudary in London, England. (Reuters )
NEWS BRIEF Anjem Choudary, the British Muslim cleric found guilty last month of encouraging support for the Islamic State, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison Tuesday.

Choudary, 44, was convicted in July for his role in influencing 500 British citizens to leave the United Kingdom and join ISIS. He was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, known commonly as “Old Bailey,” alongside Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, a 33-year-old man also living in the U.K. Both were charged with one count of violating section 12 of the 2000 Terrorism Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, for pledging their allegiance to ISIS’s self-proclaimed leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Rahman was also sentenced to five and a half years, the Associated Press reports

Although neither Choudary or Rahman were given the maximum sentence, Judge Timothy Holroyde said both men would still be regarded as a danger for  showing “no remorse at all.” Holyroyde also imposed an order tying a 15-year notification period to both men’s sentences, which allows conditions to be placed on men after their release. The Guardian has more:

The judge added: “The jury were sure that you knowingly crossed the line between the legitimate expression of your own views and the criminal act of inviting support for an organisation which was at the time engaged in appalling acts of terrorism.”

The judge said both men justified Isis’s most appalling acts, expressed contempt for democracy and through the speeches they were convicted of trying to incite people to support Isis. The judge said they had “encouraged your audience. To believe that no one who failed to support the caliphate established by Isis could be a true Muslim.”

Choudary’s lawyer, Mark Summers, assured the judge that his client was remorseful and “on reflection would have done things differently had he known the boundaries of the law.”

Though some police expressed disappointment over the length of the sentence, claiming both men could be out of prison in as little as two years, Judge Holroyde said in August that there is “very little in the way of precedent in the way of sentencing"

Choudary and Rahman’s convictions come after nearly two decades of investigation by counterterrorism officials at Scotland Yard. Between August and September 2014, the pair were found to have posted several YouTube videos encouraging and declaring their support for ISIS. An audio recording from these videos, as well as 333 electronic devices and 12.1 terabytes of storage data, were used as evidence in the prosecution’s case.